I’m a bit wary of saying it out loud for fear of jinxing myself, but for the past two weeks the anxiety hasn’t reared its ugly head. I’m feeling great, in control of my body and mind again, I can take long deep breathes without feeling like I’m suffocating, and I am enjoying the children more (and yelling less!)
I feel the difference from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. There is no invisible hippo sitting on my chest, squeezing the air out of my lungs. There is no weight of the world pressing down on my shoulders filling my day with the heavy feeling of overwhelm before it even begins.
It has been a long eight months of battling with it, but finally I feel I’m back on track.
I wish there was some miracle cure, but the truth of it is that it has taken many changes in my lifestyle to get me here.
Tips for Managing Anxiety and Stress
Better communication with my husband
It’s true that men aren’t mind readers – in fact far from. Instead of just assuming that he should know how I feel, or know what I need him to do, I have gone back to the basics of actually telling him. E.g. I have anxiety today and I’d really like you to be home to help me with bathing the children and putting them to bed. Funny thing is, when they know what we need they are only too willing to help. Who would have thunk?
I know the thought of it made me wince too, and there is no need to panic that I am about to start filling up your news feed with reports on how far I ran today(or walked in my case), but channeling that nervous energy more positively by walking it off, or dancing it off around the house with the radio turned up, really has done me wonders.
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of unwinding with a glass or two (or more) every night after the kids go to bed, but I have realised (and trust me it took a long time to work it out ‘cos I am rather partial to a sav blanc) that the negative effects were outweighing the positive. The extra weight that it has caused me to put on around my tummy area has not been good for my self-esteem. Drinking alcohol before bed has actually decreased the quality of my sleep (and I know because I have used the Zeo sleep tracker) meaning I am waking up less refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Better time management
I used to call my friend at University Monica (from Friends) because of her habit of making list all the time, but surprise-surprise it is a great way to reduce anxiety by allowing you to prioritise the important tasks for the day, and give you the sense of achievement as you tick them off. The secret of list making though is to keep it realistic – don’t fill it up with so many things that you end up with more unticked than ticked.
I am not by nature an overly tidy person. Whilst I always ensure my house is clean, quite often it looks cluttered and untidy. (Yeah, I have three kids, funny that! Lol!) But, by having a good sort out of all of our things over the last few months, and getting rid of the superfluous things in the house, it has made it easier to keep tidy. And what do you know, no great revelation I know as many of you will have known this pearl of wisdom from the get-go) a tidy house makes me feel so much calmer and in control on the inside!
Developing an attitude of gratitude
Making the time each day just to feel grateful for the simple things in my life that give me happiness and joy has made an incredible difference to my mood and outlook. For example, this morning Foghorn took my hand as we made our way towards his kinder and said “Come on Mum, let’s skip.” Instead of worrying about people watching us, or anything else, I reveled for a moment at the feeling of his small hand in mine, and the fact that to him, spending time with me is still the best fun. We skipped through the lanes, and we laughed, and I thought about how I wished I could bottle this moment, this feeling of happiness to keep forever.
We all know we need it, but this, it seems is the one that many of us have the most trouble with. Taking even an hour or so here or there to switch off and do something for me, even if it is just to lie in a bubble bath uninterrupted with a book, it has been enough to give me that pick-me up and head space that I’ve needed.
Spending time with friends
I make much more effort and time to spend with friends, even if it is a quick coffee and or a playdate with the kids. Never underestimate the benefits of supportive and understanding social networks to aid good mental health.
So that’s me. What helps you stay calm and positive during the more challenging periods of parenting and life in general?